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Nuclear News - 09/21/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, 21 September 2000

A.  Loose Nukes

    1. Three Georgians Arrested For Nuke Trading, Bellona (09/20/00)
B. Plutonium Disposition
    1. Local Nuclear Science Expertise May Immobilise US Plutonium,James Woodford, Sydney Morning Herald (09/21/00)
    2. Berlin to Export Nuclear Reprocessing Units to Russia,Itar Tass (09/21/00)
    3. Moscow Says Plutonium Destruction Costs Could Soar, RFE/RL(09/21/00)
    4. Russia Says Costs Could Slow Plutonium Destruction, Reuters(09/20/00)
C. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)
  1. USEC, DOE Considering Gas Centrifuge, Joe Walker, ThePaducah Sun (09/20/00)
  2. USEC, DOE Sign Cooperative Agreement on U.S. Centrifuge Development,USEC Press Release (09/19/00)
  3. News Briefing [USEC’s Financial Situation], Uranium Institute(09/19/00)
    1. Russia Says No Further Arms Reduction Unless ABM Treaty RemainsIn Force, Agence France Presse (09/18/00)
E. Russia - Iran
    1. Russia Freezes Laser Deal with Iran-Official, Reuters(09/21/00)
    2. Russia: Laser Deal With Iran Blocked, Walter Pincus,Washington Post (09/20/00)
F. Nuclear Power Industry
    1. Warning Over Russian Nuclear Plant, Helen Sewell, BBCNews (09/20/00)
G. Nuclear Waste
    1. Russia Claims 10% Of World Atomic Waste Recycling Market- Adamov, Interfax (09/19/00)
H. Department of Energy
    1. Statement Of U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson At FortyFourth Session Of The General Conference Of The International Atomic EnergyAgency Vienna, Austria, Bill Richardson (09/18/00)

A. Loose Nukes

Three Georgians Arrested For Nuke Trading
        September 20, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Three men were arrested in Georgia while trying to sell 3,2 grams ofuranium and roughly 50 grams of plutonium. Georgy Leonidze, a SecurityMinistry spokesman in Tbilisi, says the men tried to sell the uranium for$100,000 and the plutonium for $750,000. No reports were given about theorigin of the material.
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B. Plutonium Disposition

Local Nuclear Science Expertise May Immobilise US Plutonium
        James Woodford
        Sydney Morning Herald
        September 21, 2000
        (for personal use only)

The French nuclear giant Cogema and the Australian Nuclear Science andTechnology Organisation have formed an alliance to bid for the right toimmobilize weapons-grade plutonium in the United States.

The two organisations have in turn teamed up with the US-based engineeringfirm Burns and Roe. The new company is known as Roe CA.

Roe CA has prepared a submission for the US Department of Energy forthe design of a "plutonium immobilisation plant", which will be based atSavannah River in the US.

It is understood ANSTO plans to limit its involvement to the designphase and has no role in operation should the Roe CA proposal be acceptedby the Department of Energy.

ANSTO's main contribution will be its "SYNROC" technology, which locksradioactive material away in artificial rock.

In spite of claims that plans were under way for the alliance also toimmobilise Russian weapons grade plutonium, ANSTO has ruled this out, anddenied that any material will end up in Australia.

ANSTO said in a statement it would not be touching Russian plutonium.

It said: "ANSTO will not be a storage site for any weapons plutoniumfrom any weapons disposition programs. ANSTO's role in the Roe CA teamrelates to the design of the immobilisation facilities, not their operation.

"Ultimate storage of the immobilised plutonium will take place in theUS."
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Berlin to Export Nuclear Reprocessing Units to Russia
        Itar Tass
        September 21, 2000
        (for personal use only)

BERLIN, September 21 (Itar-Tass) - Berlin will shortly issue the permissionfor the export to Russia of equipment for reprocessing nuclear waste. Thisequipment is manufactured by a plant of Siemens concern in Hanau, Hessenland. It was learnt from sources close to the government circles on Thursdaythat German Economics Minister Werner Mueller agreed to sanction the exportto Russia of an installation from Hanau and will issue a decree to thecompetent agency to this effect.

Documents indicate that the cost of the equipment which can be usedfor processing weapon-grade plutonium into fuel for nuclear power stationsis estimated by Siemens at 165 million Deutschemark. Siemens is mentionedin the documents as the exporter while the company's statement indicatesthe wish that the federal state should assume this role.
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Moscow Says Plutonium Destruction Costs Could Soar
        September 21, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Addressing the annual conference of the International Atomic EnergyAgency in Vienna on 20 September, Russian Atomic Energy Minister YevgeniiAdamov warned that the cost of destroying Russia's stockpile of weapons-gradeplutonium could be much higher than originally thought. Reuters quotedthe minister as saying that Russian nuclear power plants cannot use mixeduranium-plutonium oxide (MOX)--a reactor fuel extracted from plutoniumafter spent nuclear fuel has been reprocessed--and that to adapt thosefacilities to use MOX would increase the cost of Russia's destruction programto $2.5 billion. Adamov noted that Russia is considering selling MOX toother states licensed to use the fuel, thereby avoiding the high cost ofusing MOX domestically. The U.S. and Russia recently signed an agreementwhereby each country is to destroy 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium.That project is estimated to cost $5.75 billion, of which $1.75 billionis foreseen for the disposal of the Russian stockpile (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"5 June 2000).
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Russia Says Costs Could Slow Plutonium Destruction
        September 20, 2000
        (for personal use only)

VIENNA (Reuters) - Russia said Wednesday it must adapt its nuclear powerplants to use reprocessed nuclear fuel or sell the fuel abroad if it isto honor a deal to destroy 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium.

Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov, in Vienna for the annual conferenceof the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said Russian reactorsdid not use plutonium-based MOX fuel and that adapting them to do so wouldhike the cost of destroying military plutonium stockpiles.

``We do not use MOX in our internal reactors. If we have to adjust ournuclear power plants for this task the cost of the program will increaseto $2.5 billion,'' he told reporters.

Mixed uranium-plutonium oxide (MOX) is a reactor fuel extracted fromplutonium after the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

Under a recent agreement between the United States and Russia, eachcountry will render 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium into a form unusablefor nuclear weapons, under IAEA control.

While the U.S. plans to convert some plutonium into fuel and disposeof the rest geologically, Russia hopes to convert all 34 tons into fuel.

Funding for the Russian plutonium conversion program will come partlyfrom the United States, which has already pledged some $200 million forthe purpose, but looming costs could slow implementation.

Adamov said Russia was considering selling MOX produced in the countryto other states licensed to use the fuel. This would avoid the high costof utilizing MOX domestically, Adamov said.

The minister also stressed Russia would be obliged to repatriate spentMOX fuel exported from the country. ``We must do that because we are dealingwith military plutonium,'' he said.

However, critics question the usefulness of MOX fuel as a means of disposingof plutonium and there are also doubts about the viability of the market.
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C. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

USEC, DOE Considering Gas Centrifuge
        Joe Walker
        The Paducah Sun
        September 20, 2000
        (for personal use only)

A new agreement between USEC Inc. and the U.S. Department of Energywill provide at least a year of research into gas centrifuge as a possiblecheaper replacement for the outdated, expensive technology used by thePaducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

Terms call for USEC to spend $4 million to boost research and DOE toprovide the setting — the Oak Ridge (Tenn.) National Laboratory operatedunder governmental contract by the University of Tennessee and BatelleCorp.

The project will employ 12 USEC workers, 10 USEC subcontract peopleand the equivalent of seven full-time Oak Ridge employees. USEC spokeswomanElizabeth Stuckle said it is too early to say if any of the workers willcome from Paducah.

DOE will oversee the one-year project, which, depending on the findings,could be lengthened or expanded if public money becomes available, shesaid.

"Essentially, we're leasing the rights to (DOE) technology and theirfacilities," she said.

The study will help determine the feasibility of a centrifuge plantin the United States. Meanwhile, USEC will keep studying centrifuge technologythat has been used by foreign uranium enrichment plants for many years,as well as a new, laser-based technology known as SILEX, she said.

The agreement allows USEC to use DOE facilities and expertise "at nocost to the taxpayer," according to a release from William Magwood, directorof DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology. "However, underthis arrangement, the public will benefit from any advances to the technologymade by USEC."

The work includes the designing of centrifuge parts; refurbishment andrestart of facilities to make, assemble and test the components; and projectplanning and assessment.

Gas centrifuge uses about one-third of the electricity of gaseous diffusion.The Paducah plant and its sister plant near Portsmouth, Ohio, each usespower comparable to that of a major city, and electricity accounts forabout half of production costs.

USEC has reportedly entertained building a pilot centrifuge plant atOak Ridge and then a commercial start-up facility at the Portsmouth diffusionplant, which will be closed next summer. In 1985, before USEC was created,DOE pulled the plug on a new centrifuge plant at Portsmouth just as itwas ready to open.

While that facility was being built, DOE decided it was cheaper to abandoncentrifuge in favor of research toward another laser-based technology calledAVLIS. USEC, which succeeded DOE as manager of the enrichment plants, stoppedresearch of AVLIS last year, saying it was not cost efficient.

The centrifuge equipment at Portsmouth was removed 15 years ago. Stuckledeclined to say if the building gives Portsmouth an edge over Paducah forthe eventual construction of a centrifuge plant.

"Certainly, one of the options for locating a centrifuge plant wouldbe the building at Portsmouth," she said. "But that's merely an optionat this point."

Last week, Richard Miller, Washington-based policy analyst for the enrichmentplants' atomic workers' union, predicted increased DOE involvement in centrifugeresearch within a few days. Without a replacement technology, USEC's financialstatus is dire, as reflected by a new Nuclear Regulatory Commission report,he said.

The study, which has not been made public, said USEC does not plan tohave gas centrifuge on line until 2009, Miller said, quoting sources whohad read the report. But that might be too late, because USEC is not expectedto be profitable beyond 2003 unless dramatic measures - possibly includingclosing the Paducah plant, too - are taken, he said.

First District U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville, said last weekthat he wasn't sure USEC will invest in centrifuge without DOE involvement.

Earlier this year, USEC asked the department for $50 million to buildthe pilot centrifuge plant, a $1.2 billion loan guarantee to finance thestart-up plant, and permission to use the Portsmouth building, which wouldsave USEC $300 million. The project would also cost DOE $150 million totransfer the building to USEC.

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson responded with a letter asking USECto justify the need for centrifuge help and why the company abandoned AVLISafter the government had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in research.
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USEC, DOE Sign Cooperative Agreement on U.S. Centrifuge Development
        USEC Press Release
        September 19, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Company Exploring Centrifuge as Advanced Enrichment Technology

BETHESDA, Md.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 19, 2000--USEC Inc. (NYSE:USU- news) announced today that it has signed an agreement with the U.S. Departmentof Energy (DOE) to begin designing a new gas centrifuge based on the uraniumenrichment technology developed by DOE in the 1980s.

USEC began its review of U.S. centrifuge last year as a potential nextenrichment technology. This work will enable the company to determine thefeasibility of deploying a centrifuge plant in the United States, whilecontinuing to review other technology options.

The Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) providesthat employees from USEC and DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, operatedby UT-Battelle, LLC, will partner for at least one year to begin developmentof a new centrifuge design. USEC's design will use all the advantages ofDOE's design while incorporating key technological advancements and costreductions. The parties will conduct their research at DOE's East TennesseeTechnology Park (ETTP) in Oak Ridge, where centrifuge test facilities alreadyexist.

Over the next year, USEC and UT-Battelle will perform cooperative researchin three key areas:

- Design of key centrifuge components,
- Refurbishment and restart of facilities to manufacture and test centrifugecomponents and
- Planning for potential deployment and operation of a centrifuge enrichmentplant.

USEC Inc., a global energy company, is the world's leading supplierof enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants.
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News Briefing [USEC’s Financial Situation]
        Uranium Institute
        September 19, 2000
        (for personal use only)

[NB00.38-2] US: USEC has financial problems but the NRC will take noaction against it, the regulator has decided at the end of its financialreview of the company. At issue was USEC's ability to fulfill the legalrequirement that it remain a reliable and economic domestic source of enrichmentservices. Had the NRC ruled that USEC no longer met these conditions itcould have withdrawn the company's certification. NRC decided that to denyUSEC its certification would, in shutting down the domestic supply altogether,not serve the broader statutory purpose. Nevertheless NRC is reported tohave found that USEC would be unable to generate profit from its own SWUproduction after 2003 and could only be profitable after that as a brokerfor Russian or other materials. It would be unlikely that new enrichmenttechnology could be deployed before 2009. (FreshFUEL, 18 September, p1;Nuclear Market Review, 15 September, p2; see also News Briefing 00.34-7)
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Russia Says No Further Arms Reduction Unless ABM Treaty RemainsIn Force
        Agence France Presse
        September 18, 2000
        (for personal use only)

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 18 (AFP) - Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanovsaid Monday his country would not proceed with a new nuclear arms reductiontreaty with the United States unless a landmark 1972 treaty forbiddingmissile shields is kept intact.

Ivanov said US plans to create a national missile defense (NMD) -- placedon hold by President Bill Clinton -- threatened the conclusion of the STARTIII treaty which Russia wants to lower the number of nuclear warheads heldby each side to 1,500.

"We are ready to actively continue the process of nuclear disarmamentand to move towards the conclusion of a START III treaty ... But this willonly be feasible if the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty remainsintact," he said.

"Its preservation is a key element of global stability and a strongbarrier to the race of nuclear and missile arms as well as other weaponsof mass destruction."

Russia maintains that US NMD plans violate the terms of the ABM treatyand has warned the deployment of the missile shield would lead to a newarms race.

The United States insists that the program -- aimed at reducing possiblefuture missile threats from North Korea and Iran -- would require onlyamendments to the ABM pact and some in Washington believe the treaty isno longer valid as it was signed with the now-defunct Soviet Union.

In announcing his decision to defer deployment of the missile shieldearlier this month, Clinton noted the objections of the Russians as wellas the Chinese and the implications the system could have on ABM.

But he made clear that the main reason for leaving a decision on NMDto his successor was that its effectiveness could not yet justify its enormouscost and hinted that the system would inevitably reach that standard.

Ivanov said Moscow felt so strongly about the ABM treaty that it wouldagain introduce a resolution at the United Nations supporting the agreement,which was aimed at maintaining deterrence as a credible method preventnuclear war.

"We hope that like last year, our initiative will receive broad support,"he said.

On September 6, Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin, meetingon the sidelines of the UN Millennium Summit, reaffirmed their commitmentto the

"The United States and Russia reaffirm their commitment to the ABM Treatyas a cornerstone of strategic stability," they said in a joint statement.

However, it stressed that both sides have been holding intensive talkson ABM "with a view to initiate negotiations expediently," suggesting Washingtonhad not abandoned hope Russia would eventually agree to some ABM changes.
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E. Russia - Iran

Russia Freezes Laser Deal with Iran-Official
        September 21, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Russia has frozen a contract to sell laserequipment to Iran because of U.S. concern about technology transfers tothe Islamic republic, a Russian government official said on Thursday.

Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry issued the announcement two days aftera White House spokesman said that Moscow had suspended the deal at U.S.President Bill Clinton's urging because of concern that the equipment couldhelp Tehran produce nuclear weapons.

"As regards the laser equipment at issue, a freeze has been placed onthe contract in question with Iran," Ministry spokesman Yuri Bespalko saidby telephone.

"We believe the equipment intended for Iran does not fall under thelimitations of international export regulations. But, given the sensitivenature of the issue, especially on the part of the United States, for themoment the question is being dealt with by two commissions -- one Russian,one American."

The two commissions, he said, were expected to present their conclusionssoon.

Russian officials have been quoted as saying the technology was intendedfor medical, industrial and scientific purposes.

White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said that Clinton had raised theissue with Russian President Vladimir Putin twice -- during the July Groupof Eight summit in Japan and at the U.N. Millennium summit earlier thismonth.

Russia's relations with Iran and its insistence on pursuing commercialdeals, particularly in the nuclear sphere, have been a source of irritationto Washington.


Russia has pressed on with a deal to help build the first reactor atIran's Bushehr nuclear power station despite strenuous objections fromWashington that Tehran could use the technology to produce nuclear weapons.

Iran's ambassador to Moscow said earlier this year that talks were underway to build the second of four such units.

Bespalko said that the freeze imposed on the laser deal stemmed fromthe "longstanding position of the Americans...We have agreed to proceedwith new investigations so that both sides can look into this."

He discounted news reports quoting an academic in Russia's second city,St Petersburg, that his institute was proceeding with the contract becauseno military questions were at issue.

Iran, Bespalko said, was a member of the Vienna-based InternationalAtomic Energy Agency and therefore subject to periodic inspections of itscivil nuclear sites.

U.S. media reports quoted Boris Yatsenko, director of the Science andTechnology Centre of Microtechnology in St Petersburg, as saying that thesale was proceeding because no government approval was required.

Contact has increased between Washington and Tehran in recent monthsand their foreign ministers attended a U.N. meeting in New York devotedto Afghanistan earlier this month.

But Washington still puts Iran in a group with Iraq and North Koreaof countries it views as unpredictable, with possible intentions of acquiringnuclear weapons technology.

The United States has cited unknown intentions of "rogue" states asgrounds for a proposal to produce a space-based anti-missile system. Clinton,whose term ends in January, has left for his successor any decision onproceeding with the plan.
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Russia: Laser Deal With Iran Blocked
        Walter Pincus
        Washington Post
        September 20, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Russian authorities have assured the Clinton administration that Moscowhas suspended a contract for a research institute in St. Petersburg toprovide Iran with a laser facility that could be used to produce weapons-gradeuranium, a senior U.S. official said yesterday.

"The Russians don't want to see Iran acquire nuclear weapons, and weexpect the contract to be canceled outright," the official said.

Beginning last spring, when U.S. intelligence agencies learned of theproposed deal, American officials have been pushing Moscow to halt thetransaction between Iran and the D.V. Efremov Institute because "thereis no question that the turn-key facility was intended for" Iran's nuclearweapons program, the official said.

The issue was raised again early this month at a working session inNew York to prepare for a Sept. 6 summit meeting between President Clintonand Russian President Vladimir Putin at the United Nations.

Kremlin officials told White House aides during the planning sessionthat the contract "has been suspended and is being reviewed" by the Russiangovernment to determine whether the laser isotope enrichment facility couldbe used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, the U.S. official said.

The laser project was first reported in yesterday's editions of theNew York Times.

Since 1994, Russia has been helping to complete a nuclear power plantin the Iranian city of Bushehr.

German companies started work on the electrical generating facility,but they left after the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the shah.

U.S. officials have been concerned over the years that the Bushehr facilitycould be used by the Tehran government as a cover for developing nuclearweapons technology.

In 1994, then-President Boris Yeltsin promised Clinton that Russia wouldnot permit the export of any enrichment technology unless it was clearlyassociated with the civilian power plant, not with nuclear weapons.

U.S. experts believe that Iran has been pursuing research on laser techniquesfor producing the highly enriched uranium used in weapons.

They also say that the laser method would not be economical for producingthe low-enriched uranium used in civilian power reactors, because it wouldbe less expensive to buy low-enriched uranium on the world market thanto produce it with lasers.

"If Iran were interested in commercial applications for uranium fuel,lasers would be the worst way to get it," said Joseph Cirincione, headof the nonproliferation project of the Carnegie Endowment for InternationalPeace.

Cirincione added that "all scientific institutes" in Russia "are tryingto sell things" because government support for science has been sharplycut, though the U.S. Energy Department provides some financial supportto keep former Soviet nuclear weapons scientists employed on civilian projects.

According to U.S. officials, Clinton raised the laser contract withPutin in July, when the leaders of the Group of 8 countries met on Okinawa,and Vice President Gore has also discussed the issue with Russian PrimeMinister Mikhail Kasyanov.

Part of the official Russian response has been that Moscow did not knowof the contract until early last year because the St. Petersburg institutehad not sought an export permit, sources said.

The senior U.S. official said that some Russian laser-related equipmenttheoretically could be cleared for export to Iran but that the Clintonadministration believes that, "taken as a whole package," the laser facilityclearly "was intended and designed for weapons-grade enrichment."
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F. Nuclear Power Industry

Warning Over Russian Nuclear Plant
        Helen Sewell
        BBC News
        September 20, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Since the Kursk disaster, nuclear safety has been under scrutiny.

Russia's only nuclear reprocessing plant is at risk of a serious accident,the European Commission has warned.

The plant, Mayak, is highly controversial because it dumps radioactivewaste directly into the environment.

The European Commission says its storage procedures are dangerous andthe risk of an accident is increasing.

More than 70% of Russia's nuclear waste is stored at Mayak, in the Uralmountains.

The plant turns waste back into nuclear fuel, before returning it tothe nuclear power plants.
In the process it produces its own waste.

Power cut

The world's two other reprocessing plants - in the UK and France - turntheir high-level nuclear waste into glass before storing it. But Mayak'sglass-making facility is out of order and there is no money to repair it.

Instead, the waste is being stored in huge tanks. In 1957 a coolingsystem in a similar tank failed, and the tank exploded, releasing radiationover an area of more than 100km and affecting around a quarter of a millionpeople.

The Head of Nuclear Safety at the European Commission, Derek Taylor,is worried that history could repeat itself.

"More waste is being stored than they really have safe capacity to store,"he said. "I think there's always the potential for another accident.

"The situation at Mayak is obviously far from satisfactory."

Recent scare

At the weekend there was a 45-minute power cut at Mayak, and the plantnarrowly avoided another accident.

Meanwhile as the storage problems with high level waste get worse, Mayakis dumping intermediate level waste into a nearby lake. The radiation thereis equivalent to about 100 times that released by the explosion at Chernobyl.

In the UK and France intermediate level waste is stored in cement insteel drums in sealed concrete buildings. But near Mayak, radioactivityis seeping underground towards the nearby rivers, where people get theirdrinking water.

Some of the early nuclear releases from the factory have already reachedthe Arctic, and there is no expertise and no funding to prevent the undergroundlayer of radioactive waste from spreading further.
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G. Nuclear Waste

Russia Claims 10% Of World Atomic Waste Recycling Market - Adamov
        September 19, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW. Sept 19 (Interfax) Russia at the moment is only laying claimto 10% of the world market for the recycling of atomic waste, Russian AtomicMinister Yevgeny Adamov considers. "For the moment all our discussionsare based on Russia taking about 20,000 tonnes, although it could increaseits share on this market. However, we want to show how important this 10%is for the country," the minister said in an interview with NezavisimayaGazeta. According to Adamov, over 150,000 tonnes of nuclear fuel have accumulatedon the world market and the recycling cycle is very long. "Over the next10-20 years we can repair old capacities and build new ones using the latesttechnology, so as to recycle as much fuel as we receive," he said. Adamovconsiders that revenue from the implementation of this project may playa role not only in the development of the real sector of the economy andin implementing ecological programs, but also in the social sphere. Speakingabout implementation of the Russian-American highly enriched uranium- lowenriched uranium contract, amounting to about $12 billion, the ministernoted that "there is no other program with the U.S. that operates moreeffectively."

"Today, as part of this contract, Russia has managed to sell its fuelfor even more than on the market and this contract will be in effect untilthe end of 2001," Adamov noted. In addition, he expressed certainty thatthe contract will be "unconditionally extended."

According to the minister, in 1999 from the funds received from thisprogram "we invested several hundreds of millions of rubles in fundamentalinstitutes and provided a new level of existence for highly qualified specialists."

In addition, Adamov noted that the Russian-American project has madeit possible for the Russian nuclear sector to invest almost a billion rublesin the decommissioning of nuclear submarines this year, that is, 10 timesmore than up to 1997.
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H. Department of Energy

Statement Of U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson At Forty FourthSession Of The General Conference Of The International Atomic Energy AgencyVienna, Austria
        Bill Richardson
        September 18, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Thank you, President Othman. Congratulations on your election. Our entireDelegation looks forward to working with you, the distinguished representativesof the member states here today, as well as with Director General El Baradeiand the Secretariat.

Now, I have the honor of delivering a special message from PresidentBill Clinton, which I'll now read.


"On behalf of the American people, I extend greetings and best wishesfor a successful General Conference. I am struck by the extraordinary developmentsand demands faced by this Agency in the seven years since I first addressedthis gathering. But look how far we have come. New inspection capabilitieswere given to the IAEA after the crisis in Iraq and a potentially devastatingconfrontation with the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea was avoided.With regret we witnessed new nuclear tests in 1998, but rejoiced in thesuccessful review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty earlier this year.

These events make clear our collective and unwavering interest in curbingthe awesome destructive power of nuclear technology and directing it topeaceful ends. This is a task in which -- with the IAEA's help -- we mustsucceed to avoid the terrible devastation that would result if nuclearweapons were ever used again. If the IAEA did not exist, we would haveto create it. The IAEA needs strong and consistent support from all ofits member states. Let's devote our best talent and the full resourceswe can to allow the IAEA to continue its work. For a small investment,the IAEA returns incalculable contributions to peace and security."


As President Clinton notes, much has changed over just eight years.Still -- Plus ca change, Plus c'est la meme chose. It was more than sixtyyears ago that Albert Einstein alerted U.S. President Franklin D. Rooseveltto new research involving uranium that offered tantalizing prospects forhuman betterment, but that also called for "watchfulness."

Of course, Professor Einstein's caveat was right. Nuclear energy, withits promise to light the world and ease the miseries of poverty, also harborsthe power to destroy. This Agency is a monument to such "watchfulness."Today, with the IAEA's assistance, nuclear power plants provide heat andelectricity to millions. Uses of atomic science in medicine, agriculture,and environmental protection are widespread. And the regime to beat backthe spread of nuclear weaponry is as strong as ever.

Still, we remain watchful. We cannot allow today's realities to lullus from our attention to tomorrow's challenges.

Let me address these challenges in turn.


The 1990's witnessed unprecedented progress in reducing global nuclearrisks. Ten years ago, the United States stockpiled thousands more nuclearweapons than today. Today, our total stockpile of nuclear weapons is roughly60 percent lower than the Cold War peak, and still deeper cuts are envisionedunder START II and III.

Ten years ago, nuclear weapons tests were a regular fact of internationallife. This is no more. The United States stands firmly behind the ComprehensiveTest Ban Treaty and will continue to work for its ratification worldwide.

Ten years ago, the United States was producing fissile material fornuclear weapons. This, too, is no more. It is far past time to end thestalemate in the Conference on Disarmament and get on with the importantwork of completing a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty.

And it is not enough to end new production of fissile material for weapons.We must also improve controls on existing materials. Universal acceptanceof the Strengthened Safeguards Protocol remains a top priority. We alsoneed to continue locking-down nuclear materials that pose special risks-- like those in the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea, where U.S.Department of Energy and North Korean specialists have readied many tonsof plutonium-bearing spent fuel for international safeguards. And finally,we need to monitor materials freed by recent cuts in nuclear arms, protectingagainst a return to the era of the arms race.

Today, I can report that we are near to completing the VerificationAgreement for the Trilateral Initiative. This Agreement will enable theIAEA to verify that hundreds of tons of fissile materials removed fromU.S. and Russian military stockpiles never again return to nuclear weapons.Our goal is to submit an Agreement to the IAEA Board of Governors whenit meets in December.

And there is more good news. Three weeks ago, U.S. Vice President Goreand Russia's Prime Minister Kasyanov signed the Plutonium Management andDisposition Agreement. This Agreement will result in the destruction of68 metric tons of U.S. and Russian weapons-grade plutonium -- 34 metrictons each -- enough for thousands of nuclear weapons. We fully expect theIAEA to play a role in monitoring this Agreement.

Ten years ago, the U.S. and Soviet partnership to reduce nuclear dangerswas narrowly focused on formal treaties. Today, it is broadly based andhighly effective. Just consider our progress. In cooperation with Russiaand the Newly Independent States, we have improved the physical securityfor more than 450 metric tons of plutonium and highly enriched uranium,keeping it out of the hands of terrorists or countries of proliferationconcern. We have provided civilian employment for more than 8,000 formerSoviet weapons scientists and engineers. We have secured 300 metric tonsof spent fuel at the BN-350 breeder reactor in Kazakhstan -- three yearsahead of schedule. And we have accelerated purchases of Russian weaponsuranium, converting more than 80 metric tons of this material, roughly30 metric tons more than anticipated in the schedule of the U.S.-RussiaHEU Purchase Agreement.

And our work goes on. In Russia two and a half weeks ago, I was proudto participate in the inauguration of the new Sarov Technopark -- establishedunder the Nuclear Cities Initiative that Russian Minister Adamov and Ilaunched in these halls two years ago. The Technopark will partner formernuclear weapons workers with private industry, speeding the conversionof facilities in Russia's nuclear weapons complex to peaceful production.

While in Russia, I also went to the Far East, where I signed an agreementwith Admiral Kuroyedov, Commander-in-Chief of Russia's Navy, expandingour cooperative work to better protect Russian naval nuclear fuel fromtheft or diversion. Our nuclear material security cooperation with theRussia Navy has been outstanding in both the Far East and with Russia'sNorthern Fleet, which I visited at this time last year. The Russian Navyhas presented me with other submarine assistance proposals, which are beingexamined now by the U.S. government. We look forward to future cooperationwith the Russian Navy.


Distinguished representatives, we must also devote our energies to pursuinga framework for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

In the United States, we are revitalizing research and development,to assure the cost competitiveness and viability of nuclear energy throughthe next century. Nuclear energy needs to be part of the global, cleanenergy mix. But let's be candid. Communities and consumers worldwide musthave confidence that nuclear power reactors can be operated safely andcheaply, and with due regard for nonproliferation and long-term disposalof spent fuel and waste.

As Secretary of Energy, I have advanced the Nuclear Energy ResearchInitiative and Generation IV Nuclear Power Systems Initiative to developnew reactor designs that customers will find economical, safe, proliferation-resistant,and that minimize production of nuclear waste. This is not a job for anyone country alone - and today, I signed an agreement with the governmentof France to advance reactor technologies. The IAEA can also play a supportingrole in this area.

We applaud the IAEA for helping more nations and more people to sharein the safe and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We believe this role shouldbe strengthened. The United States will pay its full share to the IAEA'sTechnical Cooperation Fund -- more than $18 million this year. I urge allother member states to follow our lead, which could raise another $15 millionannually for technical cooperation projects.

But again: we must be watchful -- for preparing for nuclear energy'sfuture requires that we also manage the consequences of the nuclear past.We cannot forget the important work of ensuring the safe operation of nuclearpower reactors -- and I applaud the decisions of Ukraine, Lithuania, Bulgaria,and Kazakhstan to shut down unsafe reactors. The United States will continueto support the IAEA's nuclear safety program and the safety norms thisAgency has done so much to encourage. This year, my government was proudto host an Operational Safety Review Team mission to the North Anna nuclearpower plant, the fourth such visit to a U.S. plant since 1982.

Safe decommissioning of older reactors is another priority. The UnitedStates is working to assist Kazakhstan in decommissioning its BN-350 reactor.In Ukraine, we are also paving the way to allow early decommissioning ofthe reactors at Chernobyl.

And finally, we must provide for the safe and secure management anddisposal of spent nuclear fuel, wastes, and separated stocks of civil plutonium.Last year in Denver, Colorado I was pleased to host an international conferenceon geologic repositories. We agreed that geologic disposal is a preferredoption worldwide, independent of choices that nations make with respectto the nuclear fuel cycle. So to accelerate our cooperation, I pledge tomake our research, technology, and procedures for geologic disposal openand available to all IAEA member states.


Ladies and gentlemen: looking to the future, let us agree to stand forthis Agency, which embodies Professor Einstein's plea for "watchfulness"so well.

Half a world away right now, our nations" best are jointly taking thefield under the Olympic ideal of "encouraging a peaceful society." I believeI speak for all of us when I say that we are joined here, too, in pursuitof such an ideal. For some in Sydney and some of you here today, therewill be medals for your work. Still, our ultimate goal -- a better, saferworld -- is less tangible. But if we reach it, everybody wins.
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